What Are THE Top 10 Herbs or Spices to Have in Your Cupboard? The “Experts” Weigh In.

Ok, either I’ve got a little too much time on my hands, or, perhaps, maybe I’m searching for a little personal vindication.

Do we REALLY have what the “experts” are saying should be the Top 10 Herbs or Spices in our cupboards?

To find out, I scoured the Web to find out just what the “experts” are saying.

What are these 10?

And who are the runners-up?

To be fair, almost all top 10 lists seem to be biased, either by region, by personal preferences, or, by what the authors think their audiences are expecting to hear, (or read.)

As such, I did kind of a “deep-dive” and gathered, what I think, is a rather broad range of more than 15 credible, (and semi-credible) sources, which includes magazines, food bloggers and food-oriented newsletters, to find out what “they” think.

The authors included general researchers, food bloggers, culinary educators, food enthusiasts, and one, very well-known Chef.

They were:

  1. Tastessence, an on-line foodie magazine/newsletter
  2. Bon appetite, a hard copy and on-line magazine
  3. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts (Home Gourmet) / Newsletter
  4. MasterClass (Gordon Ramsay) / Article
  5. HUFFPOST / General Research Article
  6. Taste of Home, a hard copy and on-line magazine
  7. Vogue, a hard copy and on-line magazine
  8. Food Fire + Knives (a Foodie Blog)
  9. 12 Tomatoes, an on-line foodie blog/magazine
  10. Zestful Kitchen, an on-line cooking Blog
  11. Just Average Jen, an on-line cooking Blog
  12. EHL Insights, a culinary education on-line resource
  13. Kitchen Gadget Review, an on-line magazine
  14. How Stuff Works, an on-line lifestyle magazine
  15. The Spruce Eats, an on-line culinary newsletter
  16. National Today, an on-line newsletter

The Rules:

I specifically omitted sources which focused on what spices and herbs to use for weight loss or health, and believe me, that’s spice fodder for a whole other blog.

Instead, I focused on what most authors, (be it Chefs, foodies or everyday cooks), believe that you should have in YOUR everyday cupboard.

Not all sources listed 10, some listed as few as 5 and some as many as 20. So, I made a spread sheet to note how many times an herb or spice was listed in each article and weighted the results accordingly.

It got complicated.

And, since a number of authors had “spice blends” on their list, (curry powder, chili powder etc.), it forced me to add them to the list as well.

Lastly, while you can debate whether salt is a spice (it isn’t), it was, I’m presuming, left off of nearly everyone’s list.


Likewise, peppercorns (black), which is a spice was left off a LOT of lists. Wha?

Go figure?

As such, this list is the 12 most popular choices, if you want consider salt # 1 and pepper, # 2.

In total, 43 different herbs, spices or blends were on the combined lists. Obviously, some folks just love certain cuisines and their biasness showed.

Among the more interesting findings were:

  • You don’t achieve 7 total Michelin stars without exploring imaginative dishes.. Gordon Ramsay by far had the most eclectic list of favorites, with Sumac, Fenugreek and Star Anise among his top 10 must haves.
  • Cinnamon #1? Didn’t see that one coming. Nor Nutmeg/ Mace at # 5.
  • Seriously… Fajita Seasoning? Someone actually listed Fajita Seasoning. (Their site will be kept on probation.)
  • The jury was somewhat split between sweet paprika and smoked paprika…. Sweet Paprika won out.
  • One of my personal favorites, tarragon, had a rather poor showing.
  • I was rather surprised how many people has crushed red pepper on their list.
  • And not much love for Basil. Hmmmm?

I think if the question were, if you could only take 10/12 herbs and spices on a journey to a distant planet to colonize, which ones would you choose?

That might have given entirely different, and perhaps more thoughtful, responses.

For me, if I was asked to create my own list of 10 plus salt & pepper, I’d probably weight my list slightly towards the savory side (maybe 6 of the 10) with maybe 4 Italian herbs, Oregano, Basil, Rosemary and my Tarragon, (sorry Thyme.)

I’d complete the list with cumin, garlic, and maybe 1 blend, (I’d wrestle between chili powder and curry powder.),

The remaining 3 would be sweet spices. Probably cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg.

But alas, this is the general consensus among the 16 in this survey.

  • Salt (Sea Salt preferred)
  • Peppercorns (Whole Black then ground)
  1. Cinnamon
  2. Garlic
  3. Cumin
  4. Ginger
  5. Nutmeg / Mace
  6. Oregano
  7. Paprika
  8. Rosemary
  9. Basil
  10. Onion Powder, Crushed Red Pepper & Chili Powder (All tied)

And to answer the original question, yes, as it turns out, I do indeed have all of the top 10/12 herbs, spices and or blends in my pantry.

Thank goodness I don’t have to go out and buy Fajita Seasoning.